Picture a group of high school kids with a love of ‘90s hip hop, shooting hoops and tucking into a Vietnamese feast every day. This was the after-school routine of Hochi Mama founders and long-time friends Midawell Phal, Thai Ho and Raymond Phan.
As the trio grew up, their vision for combining these passions in an alleyway setting saw the launch of a neon-clad, street-art-covered restaurant where the tables, tunes and lively atmosphere spill out onto the footpath.
The menu introduces contemporary flavours carefully, while still honouring tradition. Take the caramelised-garlic king prawns. They’re served on toasted kale for crunch and colour. The Mekong Delta oysters are meaty and juicy with a decent kick of chilli. A signature dish is the Pho’pling – a mash-up of Shanghai soup dumplings and pho. Don’t go past the crowd-pleasing Hochi Fried Chicken either.
Each afternoon, Hochi Mama’s bar staff squeeze out two litres of lemon- and lime-juice for cocktails that rep the hip-hop playlist. Try the Ain’t Nothing But A Gin Thing (sloe gin, blueberries and caramel). Or let the food guide your choices – Hochi Mama suggests cocktail matches, rather than the usual wine. Interactive elements such as melting fairy floss, fire and smoking drinks add to the fun.